CfP: Making the New World - The Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution

Call for papers, deadline 1 July 2016

Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art
(intellect journals ISSN 2051-7041)
Call for Papers: Making the New World: The Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution

In the summer of 1966, the Cultural Revolution was legitimised by Mao, immediately reaching its climax in terms of practical expression across the country by eliminating the ‘Four Olds’ in order to ‘establish a new world’. This period has often been referred to as a ‘cultural desert’ and has been absent from Chinese art history, whilst most of its outputs are considered as instruments for propaganda with little artistic or cultural value. And yet, the decade that followed 1966 produced some of the most abundant and significant cultural products of twentieth century China. It transformed many creative practices – including art, design, music and performance. Its cultural productions, ranged from public sculptures to paintings, from calligraphy to printmaking and poster art, from ceramics to fashion and textiles, and from symphonies and musicals to Model Operas.

What were the relationships between artists and audiences, or, between makers, disseminators, participants and receivers during the Cultural Revolution? Production processes were determined by professionals, but amateurs also played a significant role. The mass assemblies and parades, which took place on a daily basis during the climax of the Cultural Revolution, consisted of thousands of people who conformed to certain dress codes, body movements and shapes, visually and spiritually, transmitting, exchanging and further accelerating their revolutionary commitment. There seemed no distinctions between artists and mass audiences, or between art and life. For many of those who lived through it, the Cultural Revolution appeared to be the largest art movement ever. What effects did this have on citizens’ everyday experiences of ‘arts’? 

When revisiting the Cultural Revolution half a century later, should those outputs produced through political campaigns in fact be considered as ‘arts’? What are the cultural impacts from the arts of the Cultural Revolution on contemporary art, design and creative practices, as well as on everyday experience, within and beyond China today? What kind of new aesthetics, ideologies and cultures have been shaped through visual, audio, performative and immersive experiences of the period?

We encourage papers from a variety of subject areas and interdisciplinary perspectives to develop new understandings of the Cultural Revolution beyond conventional studies. The following set of ten ‘relationships’ is seen indicative, but not limited to the discussions around the arts of the Cultural Revolution:

  • Art, culture and politics
  • Art, mass art and non-art
  • Amateur and professional: artists, participants and audiences
  • Art production, dissemination and reception
  • Collective and private spaces: squares, streets and buildings
  • The conformity and the rebellions: uniforms and the body
  • Mass assemblies and parades: performative and immersive experiences
  • Model Operas, musicals and everyday life
  • Songs, voices and the spirit
  • Written words and images


Abstracts (250 words) due Fri 1 July.
Selected contributors will be informed in the following week. Full manuscripts due Monday 30 January 2017 (6-7,000 words)
Publication in Volume 4, Issues 2 & 3, Autumn 2017
‘JCCA - ...’ TO:
Jiang Jiehong: